Climate Change; Pedestrian Post
This was taken during a walk out to the little garden, in my yard. It's been raining a lot lately. Last year, we had drought. Our winter was the driest on records. Anyone with a rain utilizing system would have done better than the general public, and I did a lot of plant watering from my improvised cisterns.
Last night Bill Moyers' Journal talked about some of the things we can do to preserve our environment, and one is thoughtful consumption. We need to pay attention, and one of the ways to start individual effort is walking more. The stuff we buy is worth scrutinizing as well. Personally, I must stop stocking up on frozen meals when they're on sale, as buying the raw ingredients saves a great deal in the packaging system wastes. My recycled cloth bag is a help, but what do I put in it?
Last night Bill Moyers said he was heartbroken to find out his efforts are doing so little to stave off the environmental disasters we're bringing on.
BILL MOYERS:... you tell me I'm entering the land of fantasy.
DANIEL GOLEMAN: Well, let me reassure you. Everything that we've done that's green is to the good, you know. I recycle my papers and plastics. And I try to get the green product. But once you realize, through the lens of the life cycle assessment, that every product has 1,000 environmental health, social impacts, and you see that what we call green has taken one of those, one slice and improved it, there's still the 999 other things that we need to get better. The stuff we have now is a legacy of innovations and inventions from a very innocent time when nobody thought about ecological impacts.
BILL MOYERS: The industrial age. An age that gave, that made life comfortable and convenient for my-
DANIEL GOLEMAN: It made it-
BILL MOYERS: Great grandmother in ways she couldn't imagine.
DANIEL GOLEMAN: Exactly. And at a hidden cost for us today. Because the way we make concrete, which involves taking limestone and some chemicals, and heating it for 48 hours at very high temperatures, was invented in the 1820s. The way we make glass, which is a similar process, you take sand and you take a caustic soda and some things, you mix them together, you heat them for 24- I mean, it's energy intensive.
That brilliant idea, which made life so much better for our grandparents, is now, unfortunately, one of the great causes of global warming. And, you know, that invention for glass was from 1850. It's still done the same way. There's a vast innovative opportunity here, Bill.
BILL MOYERS: Let's take some examples from your book.
DANIEL GOLEMAN: Sure.
BILL MOYERS: I went to the grocery store the other day. And I came home with the plastic bag that they gave me. And feeling, knowing that I was going to see you I felt guilty because I know what we all know about plastic bags, right? It takes 500 to 1,000 years to dispose of it.
DANIEL GOLEMAN: There you go. Yeah.
BILL MOYERS: So I thought, well, I should have asked for a paper bag. And then I read in here, paper is not a lot better?
DANIEL GOLEMAN: Well, here's the problem. There is no manmade product that nature loves. Everything has these impacts. So what we need to do is either change our habits. You could, of course, get a cloth bag. And cloth has its own problems.
But, still, if you use a cloth bag every time you go to a store, and replace 1,000 paper bags, or 1,000 plastic bags, the net benefit is in your favor. And in nature's favor. ...Actually, if you look around, you know, while this really expensive, very appealing, rather toxic shampoo, is very pricey. And, in fact, the more we show companies we care about this, the more they will use their economies of scale to make the better stuff even cheaper.
BILL MOYERS: But it's been my experience that people don't always, and don't often, act on information. They need some emotional investment in it.
DANIEL GOLEMAN: That's true. And I think as we all become more knowledgeable about the hidden impacts, particularly the impacts of industrial chemicals on ourselves and our loved ones, if you think about it we don't want to bring toxins into our families. We don't want to bring them into our homes. I think that is actually the biggest emotional hook. It is for me. Global warming is a danger that's far removed. But, you know, the health of the people we care about and ourselves, that's very immediate.
Most of the people we know personally are of the kind who care about their world, and don't want to pass on the pollution we have been battling back since we woke up to its encroachment over a decade ago. When I visit Los Angeles today, my skin doesn't sting from the air pollution the way it did in the 60's. And my Honda is much better for our environment than my first car, my roommate's Triumph Spitfire (that I bought when she moved to Italy). We have come along in a good way, even those wingers who have to be dragged along by economic factors from their Hummers and rug-like lawn with the accompanying sprays.
There is increasing realization that each of us can do better. The resistance we're developing to all that packaging is good for more than just our pocketbooks. We can buy locally, avoid the plastic, and walk, bicycle or take public transportation, instead of drive, whenever we can. I can do better, and so can we all.
A suggestion; just think of my picture of being sunk into the lawn when you buy. It will take your appetite back a peg, anyway.
(A special thanks to fellow eschaton commenter Ralphie for putting me onto mushroom farming, just the thing for these weather conditions.)